Tag: Marilyn Turk

Marilyn Turk: No Iced Tea?

The fillies are handing a big hey welcome to guest blogger Marilyn Turk! Come on in!

When I began planning the menu for the Cowboy Café in my new novella, Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café, I was pretty sure I knew what foods would be served. After all, my main character, Sarah Beth Taylor, is a southern belle who hails from a Georgia plantation not far from Savannah. Since I, too, am a southern belle, (ahem), I’m familiar with southern food, and I was certain she’d serve iced tea.

But when I discovered our setting in Crinoline, Texas was in 1868 west Texas, I had a problem getting ice to her café. After years in the food service business, I had to rethink how they managed food preservation in 1868. How did they keep things cool in hot, dry Texas? Some of the gracious western writers on this blog offered solutions like spring houses, wells and basements. But ice? Now that was another matter.

Researching the history of commercial ice, I discovered that natural ice was originally harvested in the winter from frozen lakes, ponds and rivers in the north and stored in icehouses through the summer. Frederick Tudor of Boston began the ice trade in 1805, shipping ice blocks stacked with wood shavings and sawdust for insulation by ship or train. By 1847, ice was shipped to 28 cities in the United States, including those in the South like Savannah and Galveston. From there, the product was shipped inland via train or wagon.

As demand grew for natural ice, so did the competition. In 1851, Dr. John Gorrie of Florida (of course) invented mechanical refrigeration and the first ice machine. By 1876, the process had been perfected by other inventors. And in 1877, Elisha Hall and R.R. Everett established the Houston Ice Manufacturing Company, then other ice companies followed. Most ice plants produced 300-pound blocks of ice. Once made, block ice was delivered to homes and commercial businesses, first by mule or horse-drawn wagon. Of course, these wagons were not refrigerated, so they couldn’t travel too far from the ice plant and keep their ice frozen.

But Crinoline Creek was too far to get deliveries by wagon and there was no train there yet. It never got cold enough for the lakes and rivers to freeze, so they couldn’t cut ice from them. So, Sarah Beth couldn’t get ice in 1868 and she couldn’t serve iced tea. The best she could do was make lemonade as long as the general store could get lemons, or maybe order some bottles of sarsaparilla and hope to keep them cool in the well. I’m sure that eventually, ice was available in Crinoline Creek and the Cowboy Café could finally offer iced tea to its customers.

Hey guys, Marilyn has graciously offered to give away a copy of this marvelous book (I know that because I love these authors!!!!) Leave a comment, an opinion, or a pithy remark below about how you’ve managed to “make do” without something you’d like to have over the years? It could be ice… or chocolate?

No. 🙂 Not chocolate! Let’s see what you’ve got below!

Love’s Cookin’ at the Cowboy Café” by Marilyn Turk

A refined but feisty southern belle inherits a saloon she plans to convert into a genteel café. Even though her lack of cooking skills threatens disaster, she rejects the town banker’s advice. What will happen when the two lock horns and an unlikely romance simmers on the back burner?

 

A “literary archaeologist,” Marilyn Turk writes historical fiction flavored with suspense and romance for Barbour Books, Winged Publications and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. One of her World War II novels, The Gilded Curse, won a Silver Scroll award. She has also written a series of novels set in 1800 Florida whose settings are lighthouses. In addition, Marilyn’s novellas have been published in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides collection and Crinoline Cowboys. Marilyn also writes for Guideposts magazine and Daily Guideposts Devotions.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Word Weavers International.

When not writing, Marilyn and her husband enjoy boating, fishing, playing tennis or visiting lighthouses.

Marilyn is a regular contributor to the Heroes, Heroines and History blog. https://www.hhhistory.com). Connect with her at http://pathwayheart.com, https://twitter.com/MarilynTurk, https://www.facebook.com/MarilynTurkAuthor/, https://www.pinterest.com/bluewaterbayou/, marilynturkwriter@yahoo.com.

Welcome Guest – Marilyn Turk

Marilyn TurkCracker Cowboys in Florida

Florida has the longest history of ranching of any state in the United States.

Does that surprise you?

Andalusian/Caribbean cattle were the first in today’s United States, thanks to the expeditions of Ponce de Leon in 1521 and Don Diego de Maldonado who came to Florida in 1540. These cattle escaped and survived in the wild. Organized ranching began with the founding of St. Augustine in 1565, when cattle from Spain and Cuba formed the basis of herds that fed the garrison and surrounding communities. In addition to herds owned by the Spanish and Indians, wild cattle still flourished in the rangelands and prairies.

Eventually Spanish colonists began exporting cattle to Cuba. During the 1600s, Spanish clergy raised cattle at the missions, where many Native Americans learned to tend them.

By 1700, Florida contained approximately 34 ranches and 20,000 head of cattle. After British-Creek Indian raids in 1702 and 1704 devastated Florida cattle ranchers, Seminole Indians sustained cattle raising in Florida. Many had established large herds of wild cattle and stock acquired from the Spanish. Cattle herding was vital culturally and economically to the early Seminoles, as attested to by the name of their leader, Cowkeeper. They remained Florida’s major livestock producers throughout most of the 1700s.

Cattle on the beach

Cattle on the beach

In Florida, those who own or work cattle traditionally have been called cowmen. In the late 1800s they were often called cow hunters, a reference to hunting for cattle scattered over the wooded rangelands during roundups. At times these cowhunters were also called Crackers. The name “Cracker” originated with the unique way the cowmen herded cattle, using 10- to 12-foot-long whips made of braided leather. Snapping these whips in the air made a loud “crack.” Many Crackers rode rugged, rather small horses known as “Cracker ponies.” Cracker cowboys also counted on herd dogs to move cattle along the trail. These tough dogs could help get a cow out of a marsh or work a hundred steers into a tidy group. A good dog, a horse, and whip were all the tools a true Cracker needed.

Ranging in size from 5,000 to 50,000 head, Florida herds roamed freely on open range, with no sign of fencing. The early cowboys rounded cows up over miles of open plains, in hammocks, and along the rivers and streams. Then they drove them to market. By the 1890s, cow camps were located in most sections of the state. One such camp located near Lake Kissimmee, was known as “Cow Town.” The area’s cattle were referred to as scrub cows, described as “no bigger than donkeys, lacking quality as beef or milk producers.” In early Florida, Europeans, Americans, and Indians stole cattle from each other. Rustling became particularly widespread by the second half of the 18th century, and was one of the reasons that led to the Seminole Wars.

1890's cowboy near Orlando

1890’s cowboy near Orlando

When the U.S. took possession of Florida in 1821, it was described as a “vast, untamed wilderness, plentifully stocked with wild cattle.” These hardy creatures survived on native forage, tolerated severe heat, insect pests, and acquired immunity to many diseases. Like cowboys out west, early Florida cowmen had to fight off panthers, wolves, bears, and cattle rustlers. Cowmen spent weeks or months on cattle drives across difficult marshes and dense scrub woods, often enduring burning heat, torrential thunderstorms, and hurricane winds. From central Florida, they drove cattle as far north as Jacksonville, Savannah and Charleston, but in the 1830’s they drove the cattle south when trade was re-established with Cuba, Tampa,Punta Gorda and Punta Rassa became important export ports. The number of cattle increased rapidly from the 1840’s until the Civil War, and Florida was second only to Texas in per capita value of livestock in the South.

Wars provided an economic boost for Florida cattlemen, who provisioned armies during the Seminole, Civil and Spanish-American Wars. During the Civil War, Florida cowmen became beef suppliers to both armies. Hides, tallow and meat from Florida were so important for the Confederacy that a Cow Cavalry was organized to protect herds from Union raiders.

Remington's Cracker Cowboys of Florida

Remington’s Cracker Cowboys of Florida

In the late 1800’s, famed American artist, sculptor and writer Frederic Remington visited Florida and told of his experience in an article titled “Cracker Cowboys of Florida” in the August 1895 issue of Harper’s Weekly. “I was sitting in a “sto’do’” (store door) as the “Crackers” say, waiting for the clerk to load some number eights (lumber), when my friend said, “Look at the cowboys!” This immediately caught my interest. With me, cowboys are what gems and porcelains are to some others. Two very emaciated Texas ponies pattered down the street, bearing wild-looking individuals, whose hanging hair and drooping hats and generally bedraggled appearance would remind you at once of the Spanish moss which hangs so quietly and helplessly to the limbs of the oaks out in the swamps….They had on about four dollars’ worth of clothes between them, and rode McClellan saddles, with saddle bags, and guns tied on before.” Remington’s illustrations give us a good picture of Florida’s Cracker cowboys in that era.

An excellent novel about the early history of cattle ranching in Florida is A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!

A multi-published author, Marilyn Turk lives in and writes about the coastal South, particularly about its history. Her fascination for lighthouses spawned her popular weekly lighthouse blog at pathwayheart.com, and inspired the stories in her upcoming Coastal Lights Legacy series and her Lighthouse Devotions book. When not climbing lighthouses, Marilyn and her husband Chuck enjoy fishing, gardening, kayaking and playing with their grandchildren.